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Qualcomm’s Vuforia SmartTerrain Turns Your Living Room Into a Digital Playground

September 5, 2013 - Written By Jeremiah Nelson

A lot of attention has been on IFA 2013 in Berlin, but while that’s been happening, there’s another tech conference happening on the other side of the world. Uplinq 2013 is taking place right now in San Diego, California. Uplinq 2013 is scheduled from September 3rd – 5th and features technology companies like Mozilla, Oracle, and Toshiba. Qualcomm is another company taking part in the conference, and they unveiled a gaming demo yesterday that has some pretty interesting implications for the industry.

Qualcomm demoed a new augmented reality technology called the Vuforia SmartTerrain yesterday in San Diego. SmartTerrain allows gamers to use their surroundings to build terrains, and then transfer those terrains directly into the game they are playing. The technology will be available to game developers starting in spring 2014.

vuforia smartterrain

In the demo Qualcomm’s head of AR development, Jay Wright, used a Sony Xperia Tablet Z combined with a 3D-sensing camera called the PrimeSense Capri, from a company called PrimeSense. The 3D-sensing camera is similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. Wright used the camera and tablet to show how he could quickly and easily build a gaming landscape using a coffee table with a tissue box on it. He also used a vase and other objects to build a 3D landscape where he could play. SmartTerrain also contains a sub-technology called SmartMesh that takes the structure of the objects around you and assigns a mesh to them. This mesh mapping enables the software to turn your surroundings into a gaming landscape. Then with a simple press of a button, Wright covered the coffee table with grass and turned the other objects into rock-type structures. The games physics adapt and change based on what you have on the desk or table in front of you.

Gamers can add additional characters and objects by scanning their surroundings with their smartphone or tablet, like the Xperia Tablet Z that Wright used. Games like Skylanders and the new Disney Infinity can do this now, but need additional equipment. SmartTerrain will give users this functionality without needing anything other than their existing tablet or phone.

For now, Qualcomm’s Vuforia SmartTerrain is just a concept. The software is not available, but the idea is intriguing. It’s even more exciting to think that Qualcomm wants to bring this technology to gamers as early as next year.

Image credit: Pocket-lint